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Thank You …

…for Continuing the Legacy of Phuong Boi

Vietnamese recitation; photo by Paul Davis

When Thich Nhat Hanh and his friends were first developing and offering engaged Buddhist practices to respond to the polarization and conflict in mid-century Vietnam, they were met with resistance. In his book Inside the Now: Meditations on Time, Thay shares: 

“During those difficult years, together with a number of close friends and students, I did everything I could to create a grassroots Buddhism that could respond to the challenges of the times; offering chants and prayers was not enough to stop the war. But we were accused of sowing seeds of dissent, our magazines were eventually closed down, and the setbacks we were facing in the struggle for peace wore us down.

It was then that some of us suddenly had the idea of building a practice center, a place of refuge to nourish and heal ourselves after periods of intense activity. It would be a chance for us to develop concrete Buddhist practices to offer to the people of our country, to heal our wounds, refresh our spirits, and give all of us the strength we needed to continue to help change the situation. 

In August 1957 we sought and found some land in the mountainous Dai Lao Forest, a remote and quiet place with plenty of space, clear streams, and paths for walking … In that moment, as we saw the forest for the first time, I knew we were seeing the future. There we established Phuong Boi (the Fragrant Palm Leaves Hermitage), and gradually began to develop it into a practice community. Our Plum Village Practice Center in France is a new manifestation of the spirit of Phuong Boi.”1 

Phuong Boi provided the refuge and community support needed for Thay and his peers to develop many of the concrete practices of peace, mindfulness, and Buddhist ethics that we recognize today as foundational elements of the Plum Village tradition. These practices helped this core group, as well as the social workers, teachers, and other community members they trained, to maintain their resiliency in the face of ubiquitous violence, and to promote understanding and compassion for themselves and others who suffered during the war. Equipped with this place of refuge and powerful practices, Thay and his peers were able to work toward peace in their country despite their extreme environment. 

Today, the thousands of people like you who support our practice centers continue the legacy of Phuong Boi. By doing so, you make it possible for people around the world to find refuge and restore themselves, so they may be more solid, free, and aligned in their day-to-day lives. Your generosity allows for mindfulness practitioners to learn and develop concrete practices for peace. In turn, these practices are offered to mothers and fathers, children, social workers, businessmen, lawyers, prisoners, policymakers, and countless others. 

We deeply thank all of you who have helped support our transformative Plum Village practices. You are the continuation of Phuong Boi and Plum Village Monastery. Just as those places of refuge helped make it possible for peaceful, healing, and engaged practices to be developed and offered for modern times, now you embody the spirit of refuge and renewal that allows Thay’s teachings to continue to bloom. 

For our monthly donors: you play a vital role in providing the stable support necessary for our practice centers to stay open now and into the future. In honor of your continued dedication, loving heart, and embodied legacy of the Plum Village tradition, the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation has decided to name its community of monthly donors the Plum Blossom Society. We welcome and extend our profound gratitude to all of our Plum Blossom Society members. 

To all of Thay’s students, we hope that you are able to feel our gratitude for your practice, and that you can see how much of a difference you are making. Thank you for being there for our community and for our world. 

–The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation Family 

1 Thich Nhat Hanh, Inside the Now: Meditations on Time. (Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2015) 
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Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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